Teaching confidence

imgres-1DNA is a funny thing.  I see things in our kids that sometimes just freak me out.  It can be in their mannerisms or how they react to something or just a look in their face and I think wow that reminds me of me or Fred.  The other thing is that as our children have become young adults I see that their are essentially the same people from the day they came out of the womb.

Someone asked me what have I done to give our daughters confidence.  I have to say a flurry of things went through my head but the one thing that was constant is treating them (even from the time they were really young) with respect.  What I mean by that is that we taught them how to do many things with an understanding that they would and could figure it out.

I will share a few stories that went through my head.  When Jessica was in elementary school, I believe 2nd grade, she had a project where they had to build a castle.  She figured out what she needed, we got the supplies and she built it.  We didn’t built it, she built it.  I remember we went to the school to see all the castles one night and it was so obvious that no kid really built their own castle.  Jessica knew it too.  We praised her because she learned a lot that night but most important she built it, nobody else.  That was a confidence builder.

I’d take the kids to McDonalds (shocking but true) when they were young and we lived in the burbs.  It was the entertainment for the evening or afternoon because of the ball pit.  I let them order their own food.  If they wanted something else, I’d give them the money and tell them to go up and order it themselves and get it.  I trusted to them to do it and believe they could.

I remember when our kids moved to NYC at 8, 6 and 3.  We got on the subway to go to school and there was definitely a look of fear when we got down there.  They stayed very close to me.  I acted as if it was no big deal.  Within less than two weeks, we’d get on, they’d find their seat and acted like they owned the place.

At an early age, probably two, we taught them each out to shake hands and look someone in the eye.  Shake hands like you mean it.  Don’t be afraid to challenge an adult if you don’t agree with what they have to say but be respectful.  Express yourself.

Emily was definitely much more wary of new stuff.  Dropping her off at a new school in a new city after moving back from the burbs was a big change for them.  To me, it was just normal.  It is how I operate.  I move from one thing to another with out giving it much thought.  I remember leaving her in class and she looked at me with big glossy eyes begging me to stay.  I looked at her and said, suck it up, you will be fine and you don’t want me to stay when no other parent is.  I will return.  She made a friend in a few minutes and she was fine.  That was certainly a confidence booster.

When Jessica was 12 she had a piano recital on 57th Street.  I don’t remember why but we had to meet there but we were all coming from different locations.  I told her how to take the subway and she did it for herself the first time.  Fred freaked but I knew that she would figure it out.  She did.

Always encouraging with a very loose boundaries yet there were boundaries. Cleaning up the basement after their friends came over every night and then they eventually figured out that their friends had to clean up with them before they went home.  Eating what was made for dinner, end of story.  Never doubting their abilities to find themselves and succeed.  Doing their homework by themselves unless help was needed but I never asked to see their homework, I just expected they would get it done.  They did.  Respecting that they have their own lives and they have to meet their own challenges.

I guess the best people to ask would be our girls ( and Josh ) what we did, if anything, to instill confidence in themselves.  I know one thing, that both our girls stand up for what themselves, what they believe to be right and they don’t take shit from anyone.  Maybe it is in their DNA, who knows.  Maybe it is in the way we raised them.  More than likely it is a mix of both; nature vs nurture.  I know that we are seriously proud of the people that they have become but then again we have always been proud of all three of them.